Showing posts with label Ed Sullivan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ed Sullivan. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Vintage pics: The Beatles with Ed Sullivan

Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall fills in for George (who was fighting off the flu back at the band's hotel) during a camera rehearsal.
The Beatles with Walter Cronkite's daughters, who had tickets to the first Ed Sullivan Show performance.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Beatles-autographed chunk of "Ed Sullivan Show" backdrop up for auction

Via news release:

Fifty-seven years ago, on February 9, 1964, The Beatles made history with their first live American television appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." It had one of the largest viewing audiences ever, changed the course of music and influenced generations to follow. Today, Rockaway Records is proud to present a rare, one-of-a-kind artifact from that historic debut - a fully-signed piece of that stage's backdrop. Each Beatle penned his autograph on the back of the wall, accompanied by a playful caricature that each drew next to their signature.

"We're thrilled to offer this museum-worthy piece of music history," Wayne Johnson, co-owner of Rockaway Records, says. "In over 40 years in business, this is the most exciting item to cross our path. Music was truly changed forever that day, making this one of the most important pieces of Rock and Roll history."

This 16" x 48" piece of that plastic wall has only had a few previous owners; its most recent one just consigned it with Rockaway Records. The wall segment is in very good condition, and is professionally mounted in a shadow box display. The signatures and drawings, originally done with black marking pen, have turned brownish over the years, but still maintain a distinctive color. The wall segment comes with a Letter of Authenticity from Frank Caiazzo, the world's foremost Beatles signature expert, as well as letters of provenance from the original owners. It's offered for sale at $700,000. For more information:

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Vintage pic: Beatles in Central Park

During the Beatles' first visit to John, Paul and Ringo went on a walk in Central Park followed by a pack of photographers.

George was back in the Plaza Hotel, suffering from an untimely case of the flu (look closely at the band's first appearance on the Sullivan show and you can tell he's feeling lousy).

It's interesting to think how this was John's first time in the park, a place he'd often go for walks with Yoko when living in the adjacent Dakota building.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Beatles and the Ed Sullivan Myth

"Well ... It's a great press story. What can I say?"
                  - Peter Prichard, European talent scout for "The Ed Sullivan Show"

Ed Sullivan, the story goes, booked the Beatles on his show sight unseen after witnessing Beatlemania firsthand at London Airport on Oct. 31, 1963.

Fans of the group that day shut down traffic to the airport, delaying Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home's limousine as he made his way to catch a flight to Scotland, and crowding an observation platform in hopes of catching a glimpse of their idols as they returned home from a brief tour of Sweden.

Told that the fuss was all due to the Fab Four, Sullivan famously replied, "What the hell are the Beatles?"

It's a fun story that appears in numerous Beatles books and all over the Web. It'll likely be retold numerous times today, too, on the 55th anniversary of the Beatles' famous first appearance on Sullivan's TV show.

But it's not true.

Firstly, it's highly unlikely that Ed Sullivan was at London Airport on that day - many who would know say he wasn't. Secondly, by Halloween 1963, Ed Sullivan knew damn well who the Beatles were.

Sullivan enjoyed telling the airport story - and it varied in the telling - and giving himself credit for "discovering" the Beatles on America's behalf. But he's also on record saying that he learned about the band not by witnessing Beatlemania firsthand, but by reading about the phenomenon in the newspaper.

This is most likely due to news clippings sent to Sullivan by Peter Prichard, a Londoner employed by legendary British showbiz impresario Lew Grade, who also worked as a European talent scout for the Sullivan show.

According to Sullivan's producer, Bob Precht, "if it hadn't been for Peter Prichard, the Beatles never would have appeared on Ed Sullivan."

Pitching the Beatles

It was Prichard's job to to keep a lookout for interesting acts to send Sullivan's way. And, in the fall 1963,there was no bigger act in England than the Beatles.

By Halloween, the group had charted two top British singles ("Please Please Me" and "From Me to You") and a top British album, secured their own BBC radio show ("Pop Go The Beatles") and appeared to a massive TV audience on "Sunday Night at the London Palladium," which was essentially England's version of the Sullivan show.

In author James McGuire's  2006 book "Impresario: The Life and Times of Ed Sullivan," Prichard called the London Airport incident "a great press story" that was likely the invention of a Sullivan publicity agent. And he recounts his efforts to get Sullivan interested in the band by sending him news clippings about the Beatles' rise to fame. 

The trouble was finding an "angle" to get the group on the show. Up to that point, Capitol Records in the U.S. had refused to release any of the band's recordings, figuring they wouldn't sell, and the early Beatles releases on Swan and Vee-Jay didn't have adequate promotion to threaten the American charts. Why put these British nobodies on TV when there were plenty of American performers to choose from, Sullivan figured.

Associate producer of the Sullivan show Vince Calandra said the program's talent coordinator Jack Babb did check out a couple of Beatles concerts in England during the summer of 1963, but just "didn't get it." 

Calendra also said "it makes no sense" that Sullivan would've been at London Airport in October 1963. Sullivan did spend considerable time in Europe during his summers, and was in England in September, but by October the fall TV season was well underway and it's very unlikely he would've been traveling abroad.

The TV listings for the Sullivan program for the Sundays preceding and following Halloween indicate that those episodes used at least some taped material, but it's unclear whether they were entirely taped, or if they were presented live, with Sullivan in New York. Sullivan regularly introduced taped footage of various celebrities and novelty acts during his live shows. (Thanks to Mitchell at It's About TV for the info).

Also, as McGuire notes in his book, Sullivan's twice weekly show business column in the New York Daily News indicates that he was in New York during the last week of October and makes no mention of a trip overseas. Generally, Sullivan liked providing his readers with details of his travels.

Finally, although he liked regaling people with the airport story, Sullivan is on record more than once  saying that he learned of Beatlemania by reading about it, not by seeing it in the flesh.

In a Saturday Evening Post profile published in April 1968, Sullivan says he'd "read in the newspapers that the Queen's plane had been delayed in takeoff because London was aswarm with youngsters awaiting the arrival of a vocal group - virtually unknown in this country - called the Beatles." 

The detail about the Queen in this account is different (and inaccurate), but there's no mention of Sullivan being at the airport.

In a December 1964 letter to Lew Grade, published in McGuire's book, Sullivan jumbles more facts, but  makes no mention of being at the airport:

"In late September 1963 when we were taping acts in London, I locked up the Beatles, sight unseen, because London papers gave tremendous Page 1 coverage to the fact that both the Queen's flight and the newly elected Prime Minister Douglas-Home's plane to Scotland had been delayed in takeoffs for three hours. The reason: the airport runways had been completely engulfed by thousands of youngsters assembled at the airport to cheer the unknown Beatles."

Again, the Queen is mentioned, and the episode is placed in September, not October (when there was no hubbub at the airport regarding the Beatles), but Sullivan makes clear that he learned about the band via newspaper articles.

Playing for royalty

It was yet more news coverage that provided Sullivan with the right angle to book the Beatles. Shortly after the band's news-making performance on the Palladium show, the group was booked to appear on another TV broadcast, the annual "Royal Variety Performance" on Nov. 4.

The novelty of four mop-topped rock'n'rollers performing to Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother (Queen Elizabeth, pregnant with Prince Edward, stayed home) attracted media attention in the States and convinced Sullivan that, hit record or not, the Beatles were worth booking on his show.

A week later, Beatles manager Brian Epstein was in New York, arranging a deal for the Beatles to appear on three consecutive episodes of Sullivan's show (the first two live, the third taped).

"I Want to Hold Your Hand"

Shortly after Sullivan booked the Beatles, imported copies of the Beatles' latest British single, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" started getting regional airplay in the U.S., and Capitol opted to issue it - ultimately bumping up the release date by two weeks due to the song's popularity and launching a well-funded promotional campaign to support it.

The other prominent Beatles myth related to the Sullivan show is that the group refused to visit America until it had Number 1 record in the U.S. But the band was booked to visit New York more than a month before "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was released in the U.S., and the song didn't top the Billboard charts until Feb. 1, just over a week before the Beatles' first Sullivan appearance.

American teens fell in love with the Beatles' sound upon first hearing. But the Sullivan show, which allowed fans to see the group in action, sealed the deal. No matter how it actually came about, the Beatles' appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Feb. 9, 1964, secured their place as stars on both sides of the Atlantic.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Beatles Bits

This lovely pic of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr made the social media rounds in advance of "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years" premiere this week.


The New York Fair could've scooped Ed Sullivan by bringing the Beatles to America several months  ahead of their February 1964 U.S. television debut, a former disk jockey claims.
Phil Schwartz said he was on the air at York’s WSBA-AM radio station in the late 1970s when the station’s news reporter Robert Markham read him an interesting article that came through the wire service.

“Anxious to book a popular band for the 1963 Great York Fair, several Fair board members stood around a phonograph listening to an obscure British rock group,” the article said. “After a few songs, the consensus among the board members was clear. This band will never sell out the grandstand. And so, the York Fair refused to book the Beatles.”

The article then quoted former York Fair board member George Hartenstein, who said, “When (the Beatles) played on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ several months later, the board realized they made a mistake.”
 The fair, however, did include performances by Anita Bryant, Guy Lombardo and accordionist Myron Floren.


Ringo Starr and Yoko Ono are among celebrities lending support to We Are Not Afraid, "a global campaign aimed at raising funds for the refugee crisis and victims of religious and political violence."

According to Rolling Stone, the campaign:

... centers around the song "We Are Not Afraid" by Nigerian singer Majek Fashek.
On September 29th, a video for the track, directed by Kevin Godley, will features images of the 175 artists involved in the campaign holding signs declaring they are "Not Afraid."
All proceeds generated by the project will be donated to Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).


The combined sound of the Beatles and their screaming audience at the 1965 Shea Stadium crowd was really loud, new research shows.
Just how loud was the concert? Research conducted by James Dyble from Global Sound Group, which provides audio mixing and mastering services, and shared with Newsweek finds that at 131.35 decibels, the sound within the stadium would have been 28 decibels louder than a jumbo jet flying at 100 feet and 11 decibels louder than a crash of thunder.

EMI wasn't happy about the Beatles' "Twist and Shout" being used in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off,"  the film's music supervisor recalls.
We paid EMI a huge sum of money at the time --- I think it was $100,000. But [EMI execs] weren't happy, because the song was fucked with: Brass was added in the editing room because there was a brass band [in the film]. When you saw the band playing and you're hearing 'Twist and Shout,' it would've been weird if you didn't hear any brass, so they added it in. I don't know if the Beatles weren't happy, or if EMI wasn't happy, but somebody wasn't happy: You're not supposed to fuck with the music.

A judge has ordered Sean Lennon to remove a 70-year-old tree in his front yard because it's leaning over the front stoop of his neighbors, the parents of actress Marisa Tomei.
The Greenwich Village soap opera on West 13th St. has been broiling for years as the tree — leaning toward the sun to the west — has slowly twisted and dislodged the wrought iron handrail on the stoop of the Tomei townhouse.

Unable for years to communicate directly with Lennon, who bought his townhouse in 2008 but only recently started to renovate, Gary Tomei, the actress' father, sued Lennon last year for $10 million.
The judge on the case quoted the Beatles in her ruling:
"No one I think is in my tree, I mean it must be high or low, Strawberry Fields Forever (Lennon/McCartney)," James wrote.

The Daily Mail has a gossipy (surprise!) story about the children of George Martin's first marriage saying they were short-changed in the late producer's will. Unpleasant, but it does share some little covered historical background on Martin and his career.
On one side of the settlement there is his first family, who one old friend described as Martin’s ‘Cinderella’ offspring. On the other, his second — Lady Martin and her children, who have been reaping the rewards of Martin’s success for years.

Stella McCartney went for a spin in George Harrison's old psychedelic mini.